Saturday 7 April 2012

The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers - Drop Some Leg

Album review by KevW

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Ska music, apart from the 2 Tone or punk-hybrid varieties is seen by many as music made by smiling old men with greying beards and dreadlocks that gets wheeled out every festival season to entertain families in the mid-afternoon sun, before being carefully packed away again for the winter. What was once a revolutionary spark that evolved into rocksteady and reggae has, in some cases at least, been reduced to child-friendly backing music to a summer's day. The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers mix in bluebeat, soul and garage (men of a thousand bands Bruce Brand and Sir Bald Diddley are both in the line-up) to their summery sounds to try and reinstate some diversity and originality.

In places it works a treat, in others less so. The generic 'If The Coast Is Clear' and 'Everybody Ska' are just a boogie-woogie piano solo away from sterile Jools Holland fodder and 'Baldhead' is the kind of novelty festival nonsense we just mentioned. That said, The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers are all experienced, knowledgeable musicians in the genres they blend on this album, so we can forgive them a bit of silliness. When they add some grit to the tunes things come alive in a vibrant and authentic way.

The bubbling bass on 'Drop Some Leg' is expertly done and the 60s-style instrumental 'The Elusive Mr. Kaplan' is like the theme to a Jamaican James Bond. The clattering, less polished 'Bare Our Souls' is another fantastic retro stomp and the atmospheric 'Hugh Mingus' is authentic sounding big-band ska. 'Drop Some Leg', as the title suggests, is a purely feel-good album. Yeah it reminds you of warm lager in a plastic glass and getting pissed off with other people's noisy kids, but if you let your inhibitions go you'll find plenty here to enjoy too.

The Nine Ton Peanut Smugglers' website

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